Margaret Chung stars in the third video in SENREVE's latest "What's in My Life Bag?" campaign
BY MARGARET CHUNG
At SENREVE, we are constantly in awe of the strong, multifaceted women that make up our Octopi community. SENREVE women are elegant, sophisticated, inspirational, and bold. In celebration of our first standalone pop-up at Pacific Place in Hong Kong later this year, we wanted to feature some of the inspiring women in our Octopi community.
We're so proud to share our "What's in My Life Bag?" series featuring women we admire, with each clip giving you an intimate look into everything they carry – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Their SENREVE bags are daily companions that allow each woman who does it all to truly carry it all, too.
About Margaret Chung
To say that Margaret plays different roles in her day-to-day would be an understatement. A yoga instructor, philanthropist, and former actress, Margaret's path is one that is certainly unique. Her openness, sense of humor, and drive to make the world a better place for people like her daughter, who has a rare genetic syndrome called Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, are just a few of the characteristics that we admire most in her.
In her video, Margaret opens up about several different things that constitute a core part of her identity, including empathy, acceptance, and her sense of spirituality. With these topics in mind, we couldn't resist sitting down with her to learn more about what makes Margaret the kind of woman who can really do it all.
SENREVE: Can you tell us more about the Beyond Foundation and what motivated you to start it?
I started the Beyond Foundation really as a result of my own personal experience. My eldest daughter Isabella has Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, which is estimated to be diagnosed in one in 50,000 births. She's going to be ten this year. It's through my experience with her that I've gotten to meet other families, some of whom might come from low-income backgrounds, and learn more about the level of care that's needed to support a child with special needs – it's the finances with needing to provide physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and special equipment that can become really overwhelming. The government waitlist for these resources is also quite long, so I wanted to see if we could fill that gap.
One of the things we do at the Foundation is provide therapy grants, so parents can apply and receive private therapy for their child while they're waiting for the government grant. We also focus a lot on the wellbeing of the carers, the parents, so we like to have a lot of events – things like cookie making, Mother's Day events and gatherings, yoga classes...just trying to be as versatile and family-oriented as possible to create a better sense of community, because special needs families are a part of the Hong Kong community, but not everyone recognizes that. A lot of parents are scared to go out with their kids because they're afraid they'll be judged – so we also focus a lot on awareness, because I really believe that people just need to learn a little bit more so they realize this is not a scary thing. If you see a child in a wheelchair or someone who looks maybe a little different to you, you don't need to walk away or try to avoid it. So my hope is that through the Beyond Foundation we can bring about more of this vision that everyone is different in their own way but we also have more similarities than we think.
SENREVE: Motherhood seems to be an important part of your identity, not just through your own experience of it, but also in your relationship with your mom, which you've talked about often. What are some of the ways your mom has inspired you? What have you learned from her, as your very own "Maestra"?
My mom was very influential to me. She had her structure in parenting, but she also taught me a lot of the ethics that I have now from just showing me. She never taught me that I need to do this or that, she just said, this is what I'm going to do and I'm going to try my best, and even if I can't get the result that I'm looking for, at the end of the day it's about trying and doing it yourself. So that kind of mentality is something I've always tried to live by.
That's not to say she didn't have her difficulties. She went through breast cancer and also was diagnosed with ALS, so that was something she battled with for a very long time. The normal lifespan after diagnosis is only 2-5 years, but she fought it for over 10 years. I feel like that was really due to her mentality – even after her diagnoses, I was devastated, but she was actually the one who told me to keep my chin up because we can't change what isn't changeable, so we just need to see what the next step is. Of course it's going to be challenging, but she always just wanted to think about how we could continue to move forward. I really looked up to that, her strength and honesty and sense of realism, and the fact that no matter what, she always tried to live her life to the fullest. That's the thing I always try to remember for myself.
SENREVE: I know you're a very spiritual person, having moved from entertainment and acting to focusing more on wellness and yoga. How would you describe your spirituality, and what part do you think it's played in your life?
I think everybody has a bit of spirituality in them, it just manifests differently. For me, it's the sense that there's something bigger out there, something bigger than ourselves and what we can do. That trust is the root of spirituality, and everyone just has to kind of figure out their own unique direction to pinpoint that sense a little more.
That's what I found through yoga. What's special about yoga is the history, the philosophy behind it. That has taught me a lot. The saying of taking your yoga off the mat is really true. The practice of yoga can just be physical, and of course there's nothing wrong with that because it's great to start building a healthy body! But for me, it just connected me more to my mindset, and helped the lessons that my mom taught me really blossom.
Through yoga, I learned how to be more brave, how to move forward, and not hesitate so much. When it comes to decision-making and trying to balance your head and your heart, I've always had this tendency to follow my heart because I think that the mind can be influenced – but your heart is really pure, and you can't stop that gut feeling that you get in a lot of situations. But it's still a balance you have to try and manage, and what yoga has done for me is it's helped me to refine my sense of decision-making, so now when I'm faced with a choice, I always say, go with your heart, but let your intellect guide you.
Plus, you know, I can have my quirky side sometimes – and yoga calms me. It's my foundation. In the end, what it comes down to is the fact that I feel like my mom plus my yoga practice has given me a really strong foundation to stand on, and that is super valuable.
READ MORE FROM OUR "WHAT'S IN MY LIFE BAG?" CAMPAIGN: